Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Cold Day In Autumn

Awoke to an absolutely gorgeous - if rather chilly - fall morning. Ran an episode of The Monkees while eating corn meal mush and red grapes for a nice, warming breakfast. The early first season show "Monkee See, Monkee Die" has the boys heading to a spooky mansion to gain their inheritance from a late millionaire. Davy falls for the girl who inherits the mansion itself, to the disgust of the millionaire's other hangers-on. The hangers-on seem to vanish overnight after they're all stranded on the island...but the boys know there's something else going on here..

It was 11:30 before I finally made it out to the laundromat to get this week's load done. Good thing I didn't have a big one. It was fairly busy today, with a couple of other people getting comforters clean for the winter. I worked on story notes and half-listened to The View and Action News.

Went home, put everything away, had a really quick lunch, then went back out. I enjoyed my ride down the White Horse Pike and Cuthbert to the Westmont Plaza. I'm so glad I have the next two days off. It suddenly feels like fall, all blue and gold and sunny, barely in the 60's. While we've had too dry of a fall for the leaves to be beautiful, I'll take what I can get.

Stopped at Dollar Tree first. I needed sponges, which is pretty much one of the few things I buy from there anymore. There's now places around here where you can get nicer stuff that's almost as cheap, but sponges are still a good price, and they don't need to be fancy. Surprisingly for quarter of 2, they weren't busy at all. I was in and out. Everyone must be enjoying the weather. (I also noticed that the door to the former Thriftway was open. Looks like they're starting to work on the interior of the new Target.)

The Haddon Township Library was even less busy. It was too nice of a day to be hanging around libraries. There were no audio books or CDs or new releases to shelve, and barely any DVDs. I organized the adult DVD titles, pulled TV sets and put them where they belong, and pulled out hold items for one of the librarians.

Opted to rent lighter fare than I have been lately. They don't have Mission Impossible 3, so I went with the next one after that, Ghost Protocol. Never did get around to seeing the Tim Burton Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when it came out. While I've heard good and bad things about it, I did hear that this one is closer to the book (which I also enjoy). Since the next story I have planned after Summer Strikes Back is a Beauty and the Beast/Frog Prince fusion, I thought I'd try the teen Beauty story Beastly. The also had another movie in the Peter Lorre Mr. Moto series, Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation.

Made a quick stop at WaWa on the way home. I wanted a snack and to pick up orange juice for a cake I was going to bake later. Grabbed a soft pretzel and was glad to see that they still had Crystal Pepsi. I haven't run into that anywhere else besides WaWa and a few times at work.

Worked on writing for a few hours after I got home. Vader finally presents Luke to Palpatine aboard  his luxury yacht The Death Star. Here, Palpatine is a slick corporate monster in an expensive summer suit, offering Luke champagne and a chance to join the Imperial Gang. He rejects both, at least until Palpatine starts gloating about how he's sent some of the Imperials to burn the Marine Adventure Pier down, and have others stationed on the back deck of the yacht to shoot out his friends on the water. After that announcement, Luke tries to jump on him, but Vader grabs him back.

The folks on the water aren't doing much better. The Ghost and the Falcon are about to turn around and chase Palpatine's yacht when gunfire opens over their vehicles. Everyone hits the deck in a hurry. While Kanan angrily reminds the men that there's young teens on his boat, Lance and Wedge make their own plans for retaliation.

Had the last of of the chicken casserole for dinner, then made Zesty Cranberry Cake. This is what I bought that orange juice for. One of the lighter and simpler cakes in The Cake Doctor cookbook adds canned cranberry into a regular cake batter in lieu of oil or butter, with a little leftover for a cranberry glaze. I had a can of jellied cranberry sauce that was about to expire, so I thought I'd try it. Oh yum, it came out very well. A little too sweet, but not bad...though oddly, not as much cranberry flavor as I thought, with the sauce. Maybe next time, I'll use Cranberry Flummery instead.

Ran Mission: Impossible 2 while I ate and baked. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is on vacation when he's called into work by his new boss (Anthony Hopkins). He's sent out to find a deadly virus that could destroy the world if it falls into the wrong hands. Rogue agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) forced a Russian chemist (Rade Sherbedgia) to create a biological weapon that would cause a pandemic...and create desperate need for the cure, which only Ambrose's company can provide. With the help of Ambrose's thief girlfriend Nyah (Thandie Newton), Ethan and his team (Ving Rhames and John Poison) have to break into the lab and steal the samples that could save the world. But when Ambrose figures out and injects it into Nyah, it may take all of Ethan's cunning - and spy gadgets - to save her, before the virus in her gets out of hand.

In some ways, I enjoyed this one more than the previous movie. First of all, the cast is mostly an improvement, including Newton as a far more interesting and proactive heroine. The story is a tad darker and a lot more involving. It's not just Hunt and the Impossible agents' necks on the line this time. It's the whole world. Charming Scott makes for a wonderfully nasty villain, too.

The success of The Matrix the year before is definitely felt here. The wild, colorful slow-mo stunts and action sequences felt innovative and daring at the turn of the 21st Century. Now, they just look dated. Some of them still work, though, especially towards the beginning, when they're initially stealing the samples.

This was a huge hit in 2000, in fact the top hit of that year, over even Oscar-winner Gladiator.  Despite the slightly dated feel, it's hard to disagree. If you enjoyed the first movie, the rest of the series, or Tom Cruise's other action films, you'll want to give this one a look, too.

Finished the night online while watching Daffy Duck's Quackbusters. Daffy's set to inherit the full estate of an eccentric millionaire - as long as he can provide a service to the community. Fed up with the ghost of the rich geezer taking his money with him, Daffy starts a paranormal elimination services to get rid of all ghost. He hires Porky and Bugs to help him out...but with possessed duck dames, haunted houses, and elephants in birdbaths as clients, Daffy may not stay in business long enough to keep his benefactor from laughing all the way to the bank.

The last of the Looney Tunes "movies" of the 70's and 80's that were mostly collections of bits and pieces of other shorts. This one does have some new material, including the Exorcist riff "The Duxorcist" and the opening with Daffy singing to a crowd of Universal's finest, "Night of the Living Duck." (Incidentally, this would be Mel Blanc's last time voicing the Looney Tunes. He died less than a year after this movie was released.)

This is my personal favorite of the Looney Tunes movies along with The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, and frankly a far more interesting celebration of Termite Terrace's occasional ventures into the macabre than Bugs Bunny's Howl-oween Special. If you're a fan of Daffy and can get past how different the voices are in the old and new shorts, you'll have a lot of fun with this.

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